America is filled with all kinds of strange, oddball places, most we hope you never have to visit without a fair warning of what you’re getting yourself into. This is why we’ve narrowed down the most overrated, overpriced, and just plain bizarre tourist traps in each of the 50 states. So forget Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore. It’s time for the weirdest, most disappointing road trip ever.
Maine: The Desert of Maine
The state of Maine usually brings to mind lobsters and lighthouses, right? Oddly enough, besides beautiful coasts, forests, and mountains, it’s also home to a small, 40-acre desert. This geographic oddity exists due to poor farming practices from over 100 years ago that caused topsoil erosion and revealed glacial sand underneath. Receiving a ton of rainfall each year, it’s really not a true desert, and the camel statues are far too cheesy. While the odd topography is unique (and a clear reminder to be responsible with land use), wouldn’t you rather visit an actual desert instead of a mini knockoff?
Virginia: Mount Trashmore Park
Located in scenic Virginia Beach is the deceptively scenic Mount Trashmore. The park’s 60-foot-tall hill is actually a landfill, and while kudos to the city for converting garbage into such a lush and green area, it’s not so beautiful when you realize its grimy origins.
West Virginia: The Farnham Colossi
Can we agree that the only memories you’ll make at a place like this are ones of pure and utter terror? While certainly unique (giant fiberglass statues aren’t exactly all the rage anymore), the figures at Farnham’s Fantasy Farm are a roadside attraction you’d definitely be ok to miss. The private residence houses an interesting collection of oversized lawn ornaments to be sure, but it’s out in the middle of nowhere and is far more lackluster than inspiring.
Utah: Gilgal Sculpture Garden
Many of the sculptures are certainly unique, but the sphinx with the face of Mormon founder Joseph Smith wins the weirdness award. While well-intentioned, the space is more like a small, informal park than a garden, and with its causal, urban setting, it gives off a more hokey vibe instead of something sacred, spiritual, or artistic.
Kansas: World’s Largest Ball of Twine
While it’s probably the most famous item that comes to mind when you think of oversized attractions, unfortunately, it’s still just not that exciting or interesting. Sure it’s interactive (visitors can add additional twine to the ball to keep the record going on strong), but it’s definitely not worth the two-hour round trip from the Interstate.
Washington: The Original Starbucks
If you’re obsessed with coffee, you’ve probably considered making a pilgrimage to the site of the historic first Starbucks in Seattle, WA. Unfortunately, it’s technically not the original location. The first Starbucks was actually on Western Avenue and then moved to its current residence at 1912 Pike Place after a few years. Without any super-unique architecture to make it truly stand out, and lines far longer than your local Starbucks’, why bother?
Montana: Berkley Pit
Can you think of anything more fun to do in Montana than visit an old copper-mine-turned-lake, where the water’s gotten so toxic that it’s now as acidic as lemon juice or a Coca-Cola? We can! Thankfully, steps have been taken to treat the Berkley Pit water so it won’t contaminate the local water supply or endanger wildlife (birds that land in the water often die from the chemical exposure). For obvious safety reasons, the water is inaccessible to visitors, but you can pay to view the pit’s often reddish-brown waters from an overlook. We’re not sure why you would though.
Kentucky: Colonel Sanders’ Grave
As far as famous gravesites go, this one is nice and all but just a bit…unimpressive? And why is it considered fun to visit someone’s final resting place while on vacation in the first place?
New Jersey: The Hindenburg Crash Site
In the middle of an open field, this simple memorial doesn’t seem to do the drama and tragedy of the Hindenburg disaster justice. Housed on an active naval base, tours of the site and related locations on base are available through the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society. However, tours are infrequent, must be reserved ahead of time, and involve strict security requirements.
Louisiana: Bourbon Street
While iconic, there are so many nicer places to visit in New Orleans’ French Quarter than Bourbon Street, where the antics and 24-hour party vibes regrettably seem to keep the spirit of Madri Gras going all year round. You’d be much better off visiting nearby Frenchmen Street instead, with less sleaze, crowds, and tacky gift shops, and a more genuine representation of the city’s signature nightlife and culture.
Indiana: World’s Largest Sycamore Stump
Apparently, Indiana has more than one famous tree stump, but this particular hunk of wood is said to be the largest tree stump in the world at 12 feet tall and 18 feet across. It’s gnarly and all, but the original tree in Howard County (hundreds of years old and knocked down in a storm) probably would have been a more impressive sight to behold.
We don’t know why someone thought it would be entertaining to make artwork out of Peeps marshmallows, and likewise, we don’t know whether to be impressed or nauseous by some of the show’s creations over the years. This weird and wacky annual event hosted by the Carroll County Arts Council in Westminster, MD, is many things, among them terrifying, sometimes entertaining, and mostly gross.
North Dakota: Tommy the Turtle
Don’t let Tommy’s grin fool you. He may be having fun as the biggest turtle in the world riding on the biggest snowmobile in the world, but you won’t be enjoying yourself trekking out to see him in Bottineau, ND. Instead, check out any of North Dakota’s other fiberglass statues, like the painted bison in Fargo.
Vermont: Bennington Monument
Vermont is home to some gorgeous scenery, delicious maple syrup, and also this Washington Monument copycat that’s the tallest building in the state at 306 feet tall. That’s…not that tall, and the battle it commemorates isn’t well-known by most Americans. Better to spend your time at Ben and Jerry’s factory or one of the state’s breathtaking parks.
Georgia: BabyLand General Hospital
In this impressively authentic hospital for dolls, you can witness a mother cabbage giving birth to a Cabbage Patch Kid under the “Magic Crystal Tree.” The facility in Cleveland, GA, also has an adoption center with a host of exclusive Cabbage Patch dolls available for visitors to adopt, though the rarer ones have some pretty hefty (we’re talking five-figure) adoption fees. The hospital is really just one big gift shop, but the level of detail – with the staff all dressed as doctors and nurses – is impressive, if not just plain obsessive.
Illinois: Cloud Gate aka The Bean
Probably one of the most overrated sculpture-turned-selfie-spots, Cloud Gate in Chicago is shiny and all, but it really does just look like a big, metal bean. Sure, the sculpture’s reflective surface distorts the city skyline in interesting ways, but with numerous tourists constantly flocking to The Bean, all you’d be getting out of this experience would be an unoriginal photo of yourself among the reflections of a hundred random strangers.
Alaska: Oscar Anderson House Museum
If this little house doesn’t seem like much, that’s because it isn’t. While it is over a hundred years old and the first permanent home in Anchorage (the city was originally just a bunch of tents), this small historic house – while important to Alaska’s overall history – pales in size and wow factor compared with practically all of the state’s larger attractions.
Oklahoma: Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World
Since 1970, Beaver, Oklahoma, has hosted the annual World Championship Cow Chip Throw, thus giving the town the enduring title of the “Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World.” Why people still get entertainment out of throwing cow dung is a mystery, but it’s an understatement to say attending this festival would stink.
New Hampshire: Redstone Rocket Replica
The real Redstone Rocket is just an hour’s drive away, so don’t waste your time in Concord seeing this replica of the first vessel to carry Americans into space.
California: Lombard Street
If you’re an adrenaline junkie or just a plain old masochist, then it makes sense why you’d want to drive down one of the most crooked streets in the world, with eight hairpin turns at the rip-roaring speed of five miles an hour. For the rest of us, it seems like waiting in notorious San Francisco traffic just to drive down a perilous, overcrowded zig-zag road is a big waste of time.
Massachusetts: The Lizzie Borden House
Now a popular museum and a bed & breakfast, guests visiting the famous murder house can stay the night in one of the rooms where the Bordens were killed, participate in ghost hunts, or tour the house and shop for bloody hatchet-themed trinkets in the gift shop. Of all of Massachusetts’ famed historic sites, this one is too creepy to be entertaining.
Arizona: London Bridge
Formerly spanning the River Thames in London, this bridge was bought by an American businessman, then dismantled brick by brick, shipped to the United States, and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Once you acknowledge the impressive de- and reconstruction efforts that landed a European bridge in the middle of the Grand Canyon State, the structure just isn’t that special to look at, especially compared to the whimsical Rattlesnake Bridge in Tuscon.
Michigan: Hoegh Pet Casket Company
Perhaps one of the most somber-themed attractions you’ll encounter, we don’t blame you if a factory tour here makes you want to cringe or cry or both. The Hoegh family’s mission is respectful to pet lovers everywhere, however the potential for tears definitely makes this trip one you’ll want to skip. Or just plan on bringing lots of tissues.
Tennessee: The Memphis Pyramid
Inspired by Memphis’ Eygptian origins, this once impressive building was doomed to tackiness as soon as it became a novelty location for Bass Pro Shops. For a small fee, the observation deck at the top of the pyramid does offer a nice few of the city, however the disconnect of seeing fishing gear and taxidermy displays inside the ancient themed structure might make your brain hurt. At one point, there were plans to make the pyramid into a museum, and it’s safe to say that would have been a far more tasteful choice.
Hawaii: Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center
We have nothing against macadamia nuts, but of all the places to visit in Hawaii, you’d want to tour a nut factory?
Rhode Island: The Milk Can
Rhode Island is a small state, so the list of attractions isn’t super long to choose from, but one of the saddest, most underwhelming roadside destinations has to be The Milk Can. Located in North Smithfield, RI, this fading, 30-foot tall landmark was once an ice cream stand. After the business’ closing in the 60s, the structure was saved from demolition, yet has been unoccupied for decades with few restoration plans in sight.
Alabama: The Vulcan Statue
No, not the Star Trek alien race. Depicting the Roman god of fire and forging, this metal man in Birmingham, AL, is the largest cast-iron statue in the world at 56-feet tall. While it’s tall and all, it’s just not that stunning to behold, and you have to pay a small fee to see it up close.
Wisconsin: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
If you’re obsessed with freshwater fish, then by all means enjoy a trip to this museum, where the highlight is a four-and-a-half-story tall fiberglass muskellunge. It’s unclear if the site is meant to be more intriguing or terrifying, but the musky’s mouth (doubling as an observation deck) is apparently a popular wedding party photo op.
Ohio: West Liberty Covered Bridge
At only 18 feet across, it’s the shortest covered bridge in the US, crossing Cowles Creek in Geneva, OH. While the point of the attraction is its small size, overall it’s still just underwhelming.
Iowa: Future Birthplace of Captain Kirk
This popular attraction celebrates the future birthplace of a fictional character. FICTIONAL. Hopefully even your average Stark Trek fan can acknowledge this is a bit silly.
Texas: Paris Texas Eiffel Tower
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except for this replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX, that’s roughly a thousand feet shorter than the actual one in France. At least there’s a little Texan flare with the cowboy hat nestled on top.
Mississippi: Coffee Pot Inn
This tiny, coffee pot topped building currently sits abandoned in Brookhaven, MS. Desolate or not, it’s still not as noteworthy as a coffee pot-shaped building, of which the US boasts several.
Nevada: Area 51 Alien Center
As kitschy a convenience store as they come, the only close encounter you’ll have here is with some overpriced, alien-themed merchandise.
For every awe-inspiring piece of abstract sculpture, dozens are misinterpreted, like this art installation by John Grade at Wood River Trails in Ketchum, ID. While art is subjective, it’s hard to see this artistic representation of Idaho’s ancient lava tubes as anything other than a whale’s ribs or the remains of one of those giant sandworms from Dune.
Missouri: Precious Moments Chapel
Remember those cutesy porcelain kid figurines they always sell at Hallmark? Well, this little church in Carthage, MO, totes those little cuties everywhere: on murals, stained glass windows, and hand-carved wooden doors. Inspired by the Sistine Chapel, the location is unique and well-intended (the Precious Moments Foundation is a non-profit with an impressive resume of philanthropy work), however, it still feels a bit too cheesy overall. Not to mention the gift shop is full of – you guessed it – boatloads of Precious Moments figurines and other memorabilia.
New Mexico: Very Large Array
This famous radio astronomy observatory is in a bunch of sci-fi movies, and while it’s visually stunning, up close and in person it’s just a bunch of big satellite dishes in the middle of the desert.
Nebraska: World’s Largest Time Capsule
Time capsules aren’t much of an attraction to begin with, as they are a “set it and forget it” way of preserving the past. So while it is impressive that this pyramid in Seward, NE, is the largest time capsule in the world, containing two cars, a motorcycle, and a myriad of other items, it will be much less interesting when it’s opened in 2025.
Wyoming: Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument
Maybe, just maybe if the giant bust of the former president’s head had included shoulders, the memorial would feel more purposeful and wouldn’t look so proportionally awkward. But unfortunately, that’s not the case, and thus the sculpture looks like a child superglued a doll’s head onto a rock.
South Carolina: Mars Bluff Atomic Bomb Impact Crater
In 1958, a US nuclear bomb being flown to a testing site was accidentally dropped over Mars Bluff, SC. The bomb was unarmed, so the area didn’t suffer from any radiation, but the rest of the explosives in the capsule still went off, creating a large crater and destroying a nearby family home. Thankfully there were no causalities, but the family sustained minor injuries. The crater’s location is currently privately owned, so you need permission to visit, and the crater is hard to spot after years of neglect. A small exhibit about the accident is available at the nearby Florence County Museum, though this fascinating piece of US history clearly doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Minnesota: SPAM Museum
Everyone always talks about how the Mall of America is too touristy, but how come no one brings up Minnesota’s very own SPAM Museum? This 14,000 square foot shrine to the infamous canned meat is peak kitsch with a capital K, and offers plenty of free samples that you’d understandably want to turn down.
New York: The Empire State Building
The Big Apple is home to many big tourist traps, including Times Square and the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, but the Empire State Building is perhaps the biggest waste of time in NYC. While the building is iconic, the hours-long lines to get to the observation deck just aren’t worth it, and there’s plenty of other spots in the city with better, more affordable views and fewer tourists.
Pennsylvania: Linesville Spillway
This is a shameful attraction at its best and an impending environmental disaster at its worst. From the causeways above, visitors throw pounds and pounds of bread into the water below, causing a feeding frenzy among the thousands of carp that pile up so high that geese and ducks can walk over top of them. Carp is one of the most invasive species in the US, outbreeding native fish and competing with them for food, thus wreaking havoc in the ecosystems of lakes and rivers throughout the country. It’s highly disappointing that visitors are encouraged to feed this invasive, destructive species.
North Carolina: Land of Oz Theme Park
First of all, why isn’t everything Oz-related located in Kansas? Secondly, this park is only a glimmer of its former glory and isn’t even open consistently. And third, the Land of Oz section of Storybook Land in South Dakota is a similar but highly superior theme park.
Arkansas: Eureka Springs
This campy little Ozark town has some charm, but the springs it’s so famous for are mostly glorified water fountains. Blue Spring Heritage Center is much more impressive and just a 15-minute drive away.
Oregon: Peace Candle of The World
If it weren’t for the small “Peace Candle of The World” sign on the bottom of the candle, this well-meaning, symbolic structure could be easily mistaken for the world’s largest stick of dynamite, conveying the exact opposite intended effect.
Connecticut: Holy Land USA
Perhaps something special several decades ago, since its closing in 1984 the theme park has been vandalized and fallen into decay and ruin. Holy Land reopened in 2014 with fundraising efforts slowly revitalizing the site, though the park still has a long way to go. While under renovation, visitors are welcome to walk the grounds during daytime hours, though it’s recommended they have up-to-date tetanus shots.
Delaware: Air Mobility Command Museum
The history of airlift and aerial refueling aircraft is important, but cargo planes just aren’t as exciting as fighter jets. While one can’t fight, much less win, wars without gassed-up airplanes and plenty of supplies, this behind-the-scenes look into essential military functions is far from thrilling.
It’s not uncommon to hear Epcot is the most underwhelming of the Disney parks. It is currently scheduled to undergo a major overhaul, but in the meantime, the overpriced, under-portioned Food & Wine Festival trudges on, and the famed sphere remains just a giant, shiny golfball.
South Dakota: Rapid City Dinosaur Park
Unless they’re in museums, typically dinosaur replicas aren’t very historically or proportionally accurate, but this collection of cartoonish dinos in Rapid City, SD, is particularly pitiful. The attraction has six dinosaurs, all the same, mournful shade of green with varying uncomfortable expressions on their concrete faces.
Colorado: Downtown Aquarium
Located in Denver, CO, the aquarium admission is a bit steep considering how short the overall experience is, and that, coupled with the price of parking, additional charges for specific experiences, and hefty prices at the aquarium restaurant, makes for one highly overpriced experience. Bigger and better aquariums are out there that are far more affordable.